To J. D. Dana 8 May 
Down Farnborough Kent
My dear Sir
Your letter has given me much pleasure,—more than you would anticipate, & more perhaps than it ought to do,—though I put down part of what you say to the kindness of disposition, which I have observed in your memoirs & in your letters to me. I have had a short letter from Müller of Berlin, expressing interest in my Book, and now, with what you have said, I feel highly satisfied, & can go on with my work with a good heart:1 You will perhaps be surprised at all this; but I think everyone wants sympathy in their pursuits, & I live a very retired life in the country, & for months together see no one out of my own large family.
With respect to what you say on the homologies of the larva in the first stage, I confess to have gone through more doubt than on any other part: for some time I thought the three pairs of legs corresponded with the mandibles, the inner & outer maxillæ, for I must still believe in there being (potentially) two pairs of antennæ in the earliest stage; but the description of the larva in the second stage by Burmeister (whose paper by the way is dreadfully incorrect)2 & the somewhat varying position of the mouth in the first stage, led me to the view which I have taken.—3 I hope that, whenever you have an opportunity that you will attend to the adhesion of the Lerneidæ:—4 the method of attachment, which I have described is certainly the great character of the class of Cirripedia.—5
I thank you much for your wish for me to have the Cirripedia of the Expedition, but I know well how impossible it is.6 Your information on the Corals has been most useful; for in the two cases in which you speak most positively, are the very two, to which I have not the smallest clue for habitat.7
I am most vexed at the wooden-pill Box with the Crustacean having been lost: I put it in the parcel myself:8 I suppose the parcel must have been opened at your Custom House & so the little Box lost: I have got Bailliere9 to write to New York to enquire: I had hoped this would have turned out of some interest to you.—
I have lately been reading the vols. for the last dozen years of Silliman’s Journal,10 with great interest: What a curious account is that on the blind Fauna by Mr Silliman, of the caves.—11 I feel extreme interest on the subject, having for many years collected facts on variation, &c &c.—12 Would it be possible to procure one of the Rats for the British Museum? I should so like my friend Mr. Waterhouse to examine the teeth & see whether it is an old or new world form.13 If ever you could oblige the naturalists on this side of the water by getting so interesting a specimen, would you send it to me to give to Waterhouse; for (privately between ourselves) it would be of little use to real science, if once in the hands of Mr. Gray;14 —but very likely I am asking for an impossibility; the rats may be very rare. It is not stated whether the optic nerve was dissected out, which would be a curious point.—
I read over again in the Journal several of your papers; if I had space I should have liked to have fought a friendly battle with you on the Australian valleys; I see I have not stated my side versus fresh water in nearly enough detail.15
Did you not observe the great high plain forming peninsulas running laterally into the valleys, (& I suspect almost truly insulated masses); and these seem to me to be very improbable on the running water theory. Again, as far as I saw, [DIAGRAM HERE] Stream & as appears on maps, the line of drainage never seems to lie at foot of precipices on either side; & it appears to me that this might be expected to occur here & there, if the valleys were still in process of excavation.— but I had no intention to discuss this subject when I began, or to trouble you with so very long a letter.
Accept my thanks for your very kind letter, & believe me | Very sincerely your’s Charles Darwin.—
Gratified by JDD’s opinion of his work.
Discusses problem of homologies of cirripede larva in first stage and reasons for his view.
JDD’s information on corals was just what CD needed.
Would like specimen of blind cave rat described by B. Silliman [Jr] ["On the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky", Am. J. Sci. 2d ser. 11 (1851): 336] for Waterhouse to examine.
Discusses origin of Australian valleys; he disagrees with JDD’s river-erosion hypothesis.
- Letter no.
- Charles Robert Darwin
- James Dwight Dana
- Sent from
- Source of text
- Yale University Library: Manuscripts and Archives (Dana Family Papers (MS 164) Series 1, Box 2, folder 43)
- Physical description